Fostering positive intergroup relations between non-disabled people and physically disabled people: contact quality and its social psychological antecedents

Carew, M. (2014) Fostering positive intergroup relations between non-disabled people and physically disabled people: contact quality and its social psychological antecedents. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.


Download (3MB)


Although intergroup contact is a well-established area of inquiry within social psychology, the majority of research adheres to testing its traditional formulation, i.e. the extent that contact can reduce prejudice. Under this approach researchers do not investigate what happens during interactions, only if (and often, what sort of) contact has occurred. Consequently, it lacks the power to explain why interactions should be as they are between groups. Conversely, this thesis proposes that investigating contact as an outcome may provide a new and important insight into intergroup life. Specifically, this thesis investigated social psychological antecedents of contact quality among non-disabled and physically disabled people. This unique and challenging context is one that has largely been neglected by prior research.
A review of the existing literature identified two key potential antecedents of contact quality, specifically the psychological concerns and embarrassment that both groups experience when interacting with out-group members. A qualitative study (Study 1) was then conducted to gain insight into the phenomenology of these constructs. Importantly, this allowed for the identification of the unique group-specific concerns that non-disabled and physically disabled people may hold.
This thesis went on to test the impact of concerns and embarrassment on contact quality through a series of experiments involving both vignette-based and actual interactions (Studies 2-5). Among both groups, these studies revealed evidence of an indirect link between concerns and reduced contact quality. Furthermore, embarrassment was identified as the linking mechanism driving this important relationship.
Subsequently the thesis tested a series of interventions directed at attenuating embarrassment and improving the contact quality of these encounters. Two of these studies (Study 6-7) tested the efficacy of an interpersonal feedback strategy, delivered by the physically disabled interactant across an actual (Study 6) and vignette-based (Study 7) interaction. Findings indicated that such feedback could improve contact quality perceptions among both groups, but it was unclear if it did so by reducing embarrassment. Additionally, among the physically disabled sample, the effects became non-significant when controlling for demographic factors.
Finally, Studies 8a and 8b examined the potency of a societal-level intervention, the 2012 Paralympic Games. Over the period of the event, concerns and embarrassment were found to decrease in both groups but there was no reported change in contact quality. Additionally, differences once again disappeared when controlling for demographic factors.
Implications of these findings, limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM1001 Social psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Roz Bass
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2015 10:48
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2016 01:25

Actions (login required)

Update Item (CReaTE staff only) Update Item (CReaTE staff only)


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics


Connect with us

Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00